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From Fire Alarms to Fire Risk Assessments: Fire Safety Tips for Offices

Updated: Jun 13

Office desks with low-hanging lights

Your office is where employees spend a large amount of their time, roughly a third of their day throughout the week. That means that any fire risk is a big danger to those who work in your business. They need to be kept safe, just as much as your company assets should be protected. Unfortunately, this isn’t always done correctly and office fires are far too common. 


To prevent an office fire, you need to ensure your building is as safe as possible and protected against fire. There are a few ways to do this, but you should begin with an inspection.


Find a Fire Risk Assessor Near Me

The first thing to do if you want to ensure your business is safe is to hire an expert to handle the risk assessment. They will come into the office and inspect it to see where the weak points are and where a fire is most likely to occur. They will also provide you with ideas and training on how to prevent a fire, as well as how to stop a growing fire while it’s still small enough that a fire extinguisher will be an adequate solution. 


You should also do safety checks on a regular basis. It’s a good idea to have some training in between risk assessments. 


As an employer, you are solely responsible for the fire safety protocols within your office. This is according to the Fire Safety Order that was introduced in 2006, on April 1st. There are a number of regulations that you should be aware of as a business owner. It’s essential that you protect your place of business. You will now have the duty to: 


  • Prevent the spread of a fire

  • Maintain building standards when it comes to fire safety

  • Assign an employee to ensure regulation compliance


With this in mind, you should schedule a risk assessment as soon as possible and take steps toward preventing a fire, as well as mitigating the spread of any fire that does break out.


Tips for Office Fire Safety

Fire safety in the office is more than just having a few fire extinguishers around. Here are some ways you can protect your business and the people in it. 


Test Your Fire Alarms


Of course, you should have fire alarms installed on every floor of the office. This is very important to give you an early warning of any potential fires. However, if your alarms aren’t working or have been disabled, you could end up losing everything in a fire. Be sure to check them every month and to make it known that employees will be in trouble if they remove the batteries or otherwise disable the alarms. 


Assign a Fire Safety Officer


This person is responsible for ensuring everyone is following the rules of fire safety. They will communicate with the fire warden, ensure that all exits are clear, and enforce any regulations that are broken when it comes to preventing fires. This person will be responsible for contacting the fire brigade if needed. 


This fire safety officer will check for cords that may be fraying or may be in a poor position, overloaded outlets, and other potential hazards. If you have a very large office, you may need to provide multiple fire safety officers, who can work together and help motivate everyone to take steps toward preventing fires.


Create an Emergency Plan


In the event of an emergency, do your employees know where to go and what to do? While an emergency can be any situation that is potentially dangerous, if your employees don’t know what to do, there will be chaos. Be sure to provide them with clear instructions on what to do if they discover a fire. They should also be familiar with evacuation procedures, warning systems, and anti-fire measures that are set up around the building. 


You should have an assembly point where all employees gather as they emerge from the building during a fire. Everyone should know exactly where this is, but you can also include a sign. Once they are there, the fire safety officer will be responsible for doing a roll call to determine if anyone is still in the building and needs to be rescued. Employees should never return to a burning building but should inform the fire brigade of the problem.


You will also need a plan for anyone who has vulnerabilities that may make it difficult for them to evacuate easily. Any mobility issues should be accounted for and people assigned to help that person to evacuate the building.


Clearly Mark Exits and Fire Escape Routes


In the event of a fire, few people will be thinking clearly. This is why having a lighted exit sign over a door is useful. It’s easily visible and shows up through the smoke. You should, however, practise evacuating with your employees, so that they are quite familiar with the escape routes. It’s also a good idea to hire a fire safety professional to look at your chosen routes and determine how effective they are. The main thing is to remove people as rapidly as possible without causing chaos. 


Be sure to add emergency lighting in any areas that are along the fire escape route. A dark hallway or stairwell, for example, will be completely black in the case of a fire. Having an emergency light set up in these kinds of locations is essential for safety. 


Run Fire Drills


You should simulate a fire from time to time and have your employees react as if it were a real fire. This will help train their instincts for the possibility of a real situation like this. Everyone should immediately follow the evacuation procedure, escorting visitors from the building. The employees should move to the assembly point where roll call is held and then move back into the building once everything is cleared. 


At no time should anyone attempt to use the lift, unless you have special clearance for using the lift during a fire. No one should run or return to the building once out. It’s also essential that people realise they should never pause to collect their belongings, as this could put their lives at risk. 


Train Your Employees


Every employee should be well aware of how to use a fire extinguisher. They should be able to recognise the colour coding on the extinguishers and should have basic fire and first aid training for emergencies. Not only does this increase their confidence level in an emergency situation but it also means that they become an asset, rather than another victim. 


Training is very important and should be administered annually to ensure that everyone is up to date on the latest methods. This also allows new employees to take part in the training and to become a part of the team. In fact, fire safety testing can be an excellent team-building activity that the entire office can benefit from. 


Purchase Fire Resistant Furniture


All the furniture in your office, from the office chairs and desks to the cubicle dividers should be flame resistant. Certain fabrics will catch fire and they burn rapidly, accelerating the fire. By selecting items that will not burn easily, you can slow the fire and hopefully reduce the amount of damage done to the space. 


You’ll also need to be sure that carpets, curtains, and other decorations are fire-resistant. If there is a fire, you need to be sure that all employees can make it to the nearest exit, so be careful where furniture and décor is placed by having this in mind.


While you can hope that there will never be a fire in your office, it’s certainly best to prepare for the worst and to hope for the best. Even if you don’t have a fire, there will likely be at least one emergency situation over the years and having staff that are well trained on how to react will immediately make the situation less dangerous. 


Invest in the health and well-being of your employees and you’ll find that they reward you with better behaviour and more confidence during a bad situation. That’s really all you can require of them and ensure that they are able to handle whatever the situation is.

Fire Risk Assessment Kent and Surrounding Areas

Are you looking for a fire risk assessment for your office? EK Fire Protection is here to help. We’ll perform the inspection and audit your building, then give you ideas on how to ensure your employees are as safe as possible. 


Contact us to schedule your assessment.

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